1 Kings 13 “No Excuses”

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If you have ever read 1 Kings 13, you will know the story of the “man of God” and King Jeroboam.  The man of God came as a messenger of God to deliver a message to the King Jeroboam.  Verse 3 says “he gave a sign the same day, saying, “aThis is the 1sign which the LORD has spoken, ‘Behold, the altar shall be split apart and the 2ashes which are on it shall be poured out.’”  When Jeroboam stretched out his hand to the man of God it was still or frozen in place and he could not move it and the altar split as the man of God said it would..  After pleading with the man of God to ask God for restoration of his arm, it was.  Jeroboam was so pleased he invited the man of God to his house but the man of God was given a command from God in the following verses:

8 But the man of God said to the king, “If you were to give me half your house I would not go with you, nor would I eat bread or drink water in this place. 9 “For so it was commanded me by the word of the LORD, saying, ‘You shall eat no bread, nor drink water, nor return by the way which you came.’” 10 So he went another way and did not return by the way which he came to Bethel.  

Given this command from God, the man of God did so and was obedient to God’s command and went on his way.  As the chapter moves ahead, we see the man of God meets with and old prophet in verse 11 who heard about the deeds that the man of God had done in Bethel.  The old prophet invites the man of God to his home and eat bread.  The man of God replies with the command that he received from God in verses 8-10.  The old prophet devised a trick or a lie to get the man of God to his house by telling him that he had a revelation from an angel in verse 18 that he was to bring back the man of God to his house.  The man of God fell for the lie and joined the old prophet in his house.

The word of the LORD came to the old prophet telling him of the demise for breaking the command God had given him.  After hearing this, the man of God had got on a donkey and departed only to find a lion waiting for him on the road and killed him.  The donkey did not run off in fear nor did the lion devour the man of God into pieces but only slayed him and all three were on the road, the dead, the lion and the donkey.

As the chapter continues, the old prophet retrieves the body and tells his sons to bury him in his grave and when the time comes for his departure to bury him in the same grave as the man of God.  After hearing this, Jeroboam, who had seen for himself the grace that God bestowed him restoring his arm from before, did not change his evil ways and continued to do what was evil in the eyes of the LORD.

 No Excuses

The point here that we see with the man of God has been seen all throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament record.  We can go as far back as the fall in the Garden where Adam and Eve were the first humans to disobey God’s commands (Gen. 3).  Following the next generation with Cain and Able (Gen. 4).  We can follow along in Genesis and see the progression of disobedience leading to the flood and Noah (Gen. 6:9-8:22).  Throughout history, man has rebelled against God and those have suffered dearly and the lost who never came to faith and repentance perished.  As for those who had faith but did not follow the commands of God and His Law were dealt with swiftly and God, being perfect, just and right, must hold to His standards which at times results in punishment of those He loves.

But in this case, the man of God was told a lie by the old prophet.  It was not his fault, he just followed the lie.  In today’s times, we are faced with so much information via all media devices and most this information is full of lies.  Even if we tune into most Christian programs on the TV, radio or internet, there is still a danger to what we find putting into our heads.

We must be very careful what we watch and listen to and who we listen to.  The local pastor, as well meaning as he is, may not be properly trained to deliver the proper rendering of God’s Word.  Even for salvation, the wrong Gospel is out there being preached all day long to people seeking Jesus.  Although most those seeking Jesus might be wanting to follow for the wrong reasons, there are those who genuinely are seeking to follow Him to establish a relationship and avoid the eternal hell that awaits the unbeliever.  That is why we need to be like the Bereans who searched Scripture to see of what they were being told was true (Acts 17:11).  Do not be lazy and just take anyone’s word for it, test them.  We must rely only on God and what His Word tells us.

Romans 1:20 tells us that man is without excuse.  God has revealed Himself in general revelation with all He has created all around us.  So, belief in God and Christ is required.  When the lost come to face judgment, and are face to face with God, there will be no excuses that God will listen to for not having faith and coming to repentance from their sins.  We cannot give excuses that we heard a false Gospel from a shady preacher or we were lied to by a heretical denomination of false religion all together.  The man of God was lied to by an old prophet and suffered greatly just by not following God’s command.

We must guard ourselves from attacks from the adversary.  Satan is working hard and as we see society in its current state, he has plenty of listeners following false teachers or not following at all.  We must be saturated in the Word of God and search for truths for ourselves working on our relationship with Christ following as He has commanded us to do.  There are no excuses as we seen in His Word.

What is Truth?

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In today’s society we are experiencing the influence of postmodern views in all areas of life.  Postmodernism has thrusted its own ideology in current institutions such as schools and has effected the church today to the degree that many have fallen for their definitions in order to follow the secular view.  Search for the truth has become a never-ending task since the current postmodern view on truth.  This truth, as defined by culture today, impacts biblical truths in Scripture and its understanding and how theology is to be done from a pastoral position.  The current postmodern view has developed its own definition of truth and that definition is impacting the Evangelical church and the pastoral ministry.

Defining truth has been a daunting task since the beginning.  In the Garden of Eden, the serpent asked Eve “did God really say?” (Gen. 3:1)  This caused her to stumble on the truth of the statement that he made.  Did the serpent ask her a truthful question?  He just twisted something in a way she did not come to the proper conclusion before falling.  Move ahead into the New Testament, we can see where Pilate, when he was interrogating Christ, made the statement “what is truth” with a hint of sarcasm (John. 18:38).  Pilate’s statement sounds like what a postmodern would say today concerning truth.  The desperation that Pilate had is shared by postmodernist where their view on truth has no absolutes.  Without God there cannot be absolute truth.[1]

In, today’s culture truth is being twisted to fit their view that all truth is relative.  This view of relativity in truth holds to the fact that there is no universal standard for right and wrong.  This view also considers that truth is unknowable and unobtainable but limited to what each individual thinks.  There is no method or measurement that the culture can use for the absolute truth and have devised their method of relativity of the truth.  In Evangelical Christianity, the absolute truth is found in God’s inerrant Word.  That is the standard in which we base truth.

Postmodernism is a movement of belief that each person’s view on truth is deduced by their own personal experiences.  Each person has their “own” truth and for the sake of tolerance, we should never question them but just accept their views.  The all-inclusive and all tolerant view is postmodernism at its premier character.  The postmodern person rejects an absolute truth view where the Christian holds of an exact opposite view where we believe in an absolute truth given to us by God.  The postmodern does not accept a biblical view holding to their own meanings of Scripture with their own personal interpretations and each personal interpretation is correct in their own mind.  With a distorted hermeneutic of Scripture, it is impossible to hold that Scripture is the inerrant word of God.  So, if each postmodern holds their own individual truth of Scripture, then how many different views exist today within the religious circles?

In the current postmodern culture, Christians are being pulled in various directions due to the vast amount of “personal” views of the truth of Scripture.  Having a postmodern view of Scripture has developed in the development of many heretical church movements that call their views as truth and not using the truth of Scripture to guide their congregants.  They have pulled the truth away from the center of their ministry and have polluted the minds of the church goers into believing a different truth away from what God has written in His Word.  Tolerance is the primary jab at the Christian way of life where tolerance tells the Christian to compromise the truth of Scripture and not follow what God has mandated for us in His Word.  Many use Ephesians 4:1-3 in defense that the church must be tolerant and all-inclusive.  Again, a wrong hermeneutic allows for this misinterpretation of Scripture to take place.  Paul was explaining that Christians have to have a quality of humility.  1 Peter 4:8 also gives us a picture of how we are to love in a way of being stretched out or stained putting other spiritual good before their own.  The argument is simple to defend that as a Christian believer, they must repent from their sins.  Of the church allows unrepentant sinners to attend and become members of the church then the church is not God’s church but man’s church.

An excellent example of a postmodern effect on church today is the Emergent church.  The Emergent church has followed in the footsteps of the postmodern in their desire to multiply numbers and church growth.  Pragmatic methods have developed in hopes of reaching the people by using methods to stimulate growth by way of power points, slides, video clips and popular music centering on relationship, community and traditional values.  They have taken away the church service from being God centered into a man centered service.  For the sake of church growth, they have adopted the postmodern mentality of inclusion and tolerance allowing for sinful actions to take place in the arena where God is to be worshipped.  Those involved in sinful lifestyles are allowed to partake in worship and other holy sacraments for the sake of tolerance.   Brian Mcleran has authored books on this subject with an activist role with the intent to welcome postmodern thinking in how we do church.

In Mcleran’s book, The Church on the Other Side, he proposes that postmodernism is the road to take in order to move on from the current stalemate between evangelical and liberal Christians.  In stark contrast to what Mcleran belief system on postmodernism and the church, Kevin Vanhoozer said this about postmodernism and the church,

In the past twenty years or so, postmodernity has become a concept that is as indispensable for understanding contemporary Western thought and culture as modernity has been for understanding the past three hundred years.  For some, postmodernity marks the end of theology; for others, it is a new beginning.

With the Lesbian Bisexual Gay Transsexual (LBGT) movement in full swing and the United States Government ruling of same-sex marriage, many churches are under pressure to allow these people to attend and become members of church.  Clearly, the events of relativity in the postmodern culture today has affected the church and has dismantled the foundations of many denominations.  For the sake of tolerance, Lutheran, Episcopal, Methodist, churches, just to name a few, have started welcoming these groups into their congregation.  It is not just a putting up with or disagreeing with their lifestyles but tolerance in postmodern view is a new tolerance or social commitment to treat all people and their views as equally right.[2]  Faithful members, sad to say, begin to question their own beliefs since their church caved into the pressures of the culture.  Many find themselves either searching for a new place to worship or caving in themselves under the pressure of being tolerant because they are being told it is the right thing to do, culturally not Biblically.

The seeker friendly or church of easy believism has also shared the postmodern culture view.  They are delivering messages that do not offend or single out sinners or sinful living in order not to cause anyone to feel uncomfortable or convicted.  With the same motivation as the Emergent church of filling the pews, the seeker friendly church has banished any hint of properly preaching God’s Word.  The impression left on the congregants is that everyone should be accepted and we need to overlook their sins and not be judgmental.  Evangelicals would turn their backs on their proper theological view to a pluralistic and worldly view on Christianity accepting the universalistic movement.  The false postmodern views welcomed by the church can distort the salvific process of the Gospel delivering a false Gospel that has no saving power.  Without the proper truthful view on what the thru Gospel requirements are, a false sense of salvation will be ushered into the church.  Postmodern beliefs do not have an absolute authority on the truth but Christians have the Word of God, which is the absolute authority on truth.

The pastor has a tough and long road ahead of him during these days of postmodernism views in the world culture today.  The authority of God in His Word is truth and that is the foundation on which all pastors need to stand.  The Biblical definition of truth, as told by John MacArthur, is that which is consistent with the mind, will, character, glory and being of God.  Basically, the self-expression of God.[3]  The Bible shows throughout the books, chapters and verses that God is truth.  Deuteronomy 32:4 tells of His perfections, John 14:6 Jesus makes the statement that He is the truth……

Truth is hard to deliver to the people God has given the pastor to shepherd.  As an antagonist, truth offends, cuts deep and hurts.  The Word of God has to be delivered in the proper teaching for the protection of the flock.  Hebrews 4:12 gives us a picture of the power of the truth in God’s Word.  The writer says that the word is sharper than any two-edged sword. Scripture is to teach and to convict us of our sins by piercing the heart.  No wonder not many people want to hear what God is telling them.  Today, people want to feel good about themselves even in Christian circles showing what a self-centered and narcissistic culture the West has produced.  Timothy 3:16 gives us the foundation we use to deliver the truth of what God’s Word.  Paul writes under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit explaining that God’s Word is good for teaching, for rebuking, for correction and for training in righteousness.  The pastor cannot bow down to society and culture but he must stand for the truth of Scripture as an ambassador to the Kingdom.

As penetrating to the souls as Scripture is, the pastor must stay on point to his calling and deliver the truth of God’s Word to His followers.  No matter how unpopular God’s truth is in today’s culture, it must still be delivered in full context.  There is no watering down or dumbing down in order not to offend people in order to win them over.  Pragmatism creeps in ever so slowly and it must be watched very carefully.  There is an overwhelming tendency to be liked by the congregation.  In order to keep them happy and feeling good about themselves, many pastors feel that they have to give the people what they want and dislocate themselves from the very foundation that will keep them safe and honoring God.  Church growth is up to God.  The pastor has to focus on the delivery of the truth of Scripture and by being diligent and faithful to that task.  By doing so, the flock will grow and be protected from any postmodern views that may creep into the church.  Success in ministry comes down to one thing and that is the faithfulness in service of the pastor to the calling to which God has called.[4]

Proper theology is required to lead the church on the proper path that honors God.  Not wavering to every little cultural whim under the sun, the pastor must maintain focus on proper theology.  Proper theology is based on the proper application of the different layers that are comprise truthful theology.  Exegetical Theology, Biblical Theology, Natural Theology, Historical Theology, Polemical Theology and Practical Theology are the foundational bricks that build a proper theology.  Knowing these things is not enough.  The proper delivery of proper theology is only done by expository preaching.  Having a proper theology will assist the pastor in developing an exceptional path to expository preaching.

The primary job for the pastor is to feed and protect his flock.  With expository preaching, the pastor can deliver the absolute truth of Scripture in a systematic and organized manner that will teach God’s people who He is and what His will is.  With a diluted theology and preaching that has no structure, caving into what the culture deems acceptable material for preaching, the truth of God’s revelation in Scripture will not be told properly.  The pastor must keep the pulpit a sanctuary for worship to the Lord.  It is a place where the pastor is the voice of God.  He must always be cognizant of the weightiness and fear involved handling God’s Word.  The Bible is the basis of preaching and it is the power that fills the pulpit.[5]

The truth is known and available to everyone.  God’s Word is truth but since the beginning truth has always been an object that man feels that an absolute cannot be found.  Through the history of man, many philosophical views have been developed in regards to defining the truth.  Today, the postmodern view on truth has the most dangerous implications on the church.  Tolerance and acceptance to everyone’s view on any issue has defiled the integrity of many denominations bringing into the church the world view.  As the challenges meet face to face with pastors holding to proper theology many are falling away from their first love and trying to meet the unbiblical needs of the people who hold postmodern views.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] John F. MacArthur, John 12-21 MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Moody Publishers, 2008). P. 331

[2] D. A. Carson, The Intolerance of Tolerance, Reprint edition (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2013). P. 98

[3] John MacArthur, The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception, First Edition (Nashville, Tenn: Thomas Nelson, 2007). P. 2

[4] R. Kent Hughes and Barbara Hughes, Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway, 2008).

[5]John MacArthur, Ashamed of the Gospel (3rd Edition): When the Church Becomes Like the World, 3 edition (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway, 2010).  P. 196

Feed My Sheep

 

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In John 21:15-17, Jesus asks Simon, aka Peter, if he loved him.  Simon was Peter’s birth name and Jesus always addressed him as Simon in the beginning of his ministry when he asked Simon to follow Him.  Throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus refers to Simon as Simon.  There is a point where we see Jesus finally calling him as Peter.  I believe that Jesus would use Simon during the times when he would display actions of the old self of Simon as a light rebuke.  Going back to the scene when Jesus had been with the disciples after his resurrection, in a conversation with Peter, He asked him 3 different times if he loved Jesus. 

The first time, Jesus asks if Simon loved (agape) Him.  Peter replied that he loved (phileo) Him.  The agapeo love is true unconditional love whereas the phileo love is an effectual love.  Jesus asks Peter again if he agapeo loved Him and he replied the same phileo love.  Finally, Jesus asks Peter if he phileo loved him and Peter replied that he philoe loved Him.  In all three instances Jesus gave the command to feed His sheep.  This is an imperative command in the Greek, “Βόσκε” (boskee), to feed or portraying the duty of a Christian teacher to promote in every way the spiritual welfare of the members of the church.  Jesus did not ask Peter if he “could” feed His sheep but it was a command to “do” it.  As a follower of Christ, we are to love Him.  If so, then the command holds true for all of us not only the men called into ministry.  But I want to focus on the men in ministry now. 

What we are seeing in the church today are pulpits being filled with men unqualified who think they can properly feed God’s people.  Not knowing how to properly handle the Word of God how can they possibly be ready for the most important job this side of eternity?  These ministers of God’s Word and overseers will have to give an account to God for the souls they were to shepherd (Heb. 13:17).  They will be judged for how they watched over God’s people.  What a heavy weight to carry.  Sadly, these future church leaders are not being educated properly on the expositional research to properly deliver the truth of God’s Word.

Many churches, too many to begin to imagine, are being led by men unfit to serve.  They may fit the qualifications of a pastor in Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3 with an exemplary life but they are unfit to deliver the truth of Scripture.  The issue is that “they don’t know that they don’t know.”  They feel that if they can read a few commentaries they can put together a nifty sermon that will have the congregation on the edge of their seats in excitement.  Oh, let’s not forget all the pragmatic bells and whistles they can also throw out there like power points, feel good stories and self-promoting illustrations.  Anything to make you feel good and “like“ the pastor.

The pulpit has been neglected for too long.  The pulpit is the place where God is to be glorified and His Word exposited.  It does not serve as a stage to show off any talented speech, jokes or remedies.  It is the altar to lift God and honor Him.  If the pastor has any idea of the magnitude of the job he has been given, then every Sunday before he enters the pulpit, there needs to be a fearful knowledge that he is handling the most important document given to man.  God has lowered Himself to give us His Word.  For the men called to divide His Word and deliver it to His people, there is no higher calling.  It is a serious task and should be handled with the deepest seriousness.  Jesus said “feed my sheep” meaning to care for them and keep them from harm.

Part of the care of His flock is the protection from enemies.  The Word of God is the defense for His flock.  It gives protection in the way of knowledge through His Word.  Properly taught followers know what evil lurks around us and knows how to defend themselves.  A pastor that does not teach properly, does not care about the well-being of the people God has placed in his care.  If you cannot teach your people about what to look out for and wat to stay clear of then I am afraid that you are not following the command of Christ in feeding His sheep.  A pastor’s job is to protect the flock not to pet them. 

After meditating on these three verses in John 21, I feel the weightiness of the responsibility of handling His Word.  Even doing these little blogs, I feel that I have to get it right as I can.  I do not want to be a stumbling block and drive a wedge between me and God on the account that I want to look like some Biblical scholar or major theologian.  By the way, I am not.  Just as student training to serve Him.

If you are in a church that you are unsure of the pastor or his training, ask him a small question.  Ask him “do you love Jesus?”  I am sure he will reply a big yes!  If so then ask him to feed Christ’s sheep.  Feed them.  The expression on his face will tell you where his heart is.  I pray if anyone reading this will take a closer look at what is being delivered from the pulpit and ask yourself, is this God’s Word being delivered to honor and glorify Him or is this about the pastor?  We need to keep our pastors accountable.  They are not a higher class of humans and they do need accountability and the good ones will appreciate your openness and care for God’s Word.

 

In Christ <><